Float On


christian_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Float On
Synopsis Giving the Cliffside Apartments rooftop a rest just this once, Christian meets Teo in the ruins of Midtown. Where he then gives him an awesome bag of swag, including the first boat of the beginning of a Christmas collection. A selfish jerk, it takes Teo about two seconds to accept ALL OF IT for his own. 'Float On' is a very good Modest Mouse song.
Date December 27, 2008

Ruins of Midtown

Standing in the ruins of Midtown, it's hard to believe New York is still a living city.

There's life enough around the fringes — the stubborn, who refused to rebuild somewhere else; the hopeful, who believe the radiation is gone, or that they somehow won't be affected. Businesses, apartment complexes, taxis and bicycles and subways going to and fro — life goes on. Perhaps more quietly than in other parts of the city, shadowed by the reminder that even a city can die, but it does go on.

Then there is the waste. The empty core for which the living city is only a distant memory. Though a few major thoroughfares wind through the ruins, arteries linking the surviving halves, and the forms of some truly desperate souls can occasionally be glimpsed skulking in the shadows, the loudest noise here is of the wind whistling through the mangled remnants of buildings. Twisted cords of rebar reach out from shattered concrete; piles of masonry and warped metal huddle on the ground, broken and forlorn. Short stretches of road peek out from under rubble and dust only to disappear again shortly afterwards, dotted with the mangled and contorted forms of rusting cars, their windows long since shattered into glittering dust.

There are no bodies — not even pieces, not anymore. Just the bits and pieces of destroyed lives: ragged streamers fluttering from the handlebar which juts out of a pile of debris; a flowerbox turned on its side, coated by brick dust, dry sticks still clinging to the packed dirt inside; a lawn chair, its aluminum frame twisted but still recognizable, leaning against a flight of stairs climbing to nowhere.

At the center of this broken wasteland lies nothing at all. A hollow scooped out of the earth, just over half a mile across, coated in a thick layer of dust and ash. Nothing lives here. Not a bird; not a plant. Nothing stands here. Not one concrete block atop another. There is only a scar in the earth, cauterized by atomic fire. This is Death's ground.

When one has a date with a terrorist on a Saturday night, expectation generally goes that the mall or the clubbing district are out of the question. Well, at least, if those circumstances were frequent enough for there to be a general anything about it, that would probably be true. It's as bad a part of town as Harlem where they first bumped into each other months ago, in its own way. The Midtown ruins.

Edge of the rad zone. Good place to practice blowing shit up, if you have the materials and ingredients to spare and a sense of where shit is. A fragment of an exploded keg bumps away from the toe of Teo's boot, barely visible at the distance to the nearest functioning street lamp: not close at all.

Snow takes the print of his sole into an etching too damp to crumble. The remnants of the First Citizens Bank stands above him, the landmark he'd asked Chris to come to. It stands flanked by other buildings that suffered worse for disuse — though the erstwhile monolith itself is already, sunken-eyed, part of its facade caved in, brass doors skewed away from the masonry. Teo hums under his breath, and waits.

It's not everyday the big Katoom Chris calls his, gets to really use much of its suspension travel you know. So its with particular relish that Chris proceeds to ride his big Austrian warhorse over the occasional burned out car and of course ramp off anything suitable along the way. So Chris is just a touch late, but at least his bike's distinctive snarl announces he's at least coming for awhile.

The Adventure isn't particularly picky when it comes to whats underneath it, so it really shouldnt be that surprising when it pops into view down the road some. A massive cloud of probably radioactive dust and gravel thrown behind it in a proper roostertail, its headlight flickering in the distance still as it picks up speed. The actual pass of the 950 is actually at full speed if only because its such a rare opportunity. The moment the big bike sweeps past Teo it locks up, weight shifts and the bike rotates to slide neatly sideways down the road as it bleeds speed. Then a flutter of the front brake, as the clutch drops and the bike neatly pivots the extra ninety degrees needed to bring it back around.

"Hey whats up fucker!"Comes Chris's rather enthusastic greeting as sweeps back around to halt the bike nearby. "shit this place is a god damned ball dude, I dont know why the fuck I didnt come out here earlier. "He could speed, he could jump off of things the city might normally cite him for and he could hide bodies here. Brilliant! Anywho, tonight Chris was wearing his usual satchel but in addition there was a dull green messenger's bag which was very unlike Chris being as it was clean, devoid of patches and not overtly militant save for its olive coloration."I got'cher present!"

Noise. The noise is conspicuous, and pretty damn difficult to mistake for anything else. Teo's looking up before there's anything to see, smiling before he knows what's funny, and laughing before his friend's hollering hello. Fearless a little like the way that a wild animal is when approached, he doesn't move off the road, doesn't retreat into the derelict bank's gaping maw. He stands in the snow with his hands in his pockets and his shoulders up around his ears.

Shakes with laughter. "Too busy with your responsibilities as a civil servant? Scared of ghosts and homeless people? Fucked if I know." Teo's eyes thin with mirth, and he shakes the strandy shadow of his own hair out of the way. "You've kind of been around here before.

"You put your foot through Xerxes less than a mile that way." He walks toward the bike and points perpendicular to his left. White and ice cough out from under the first few sloppy clomps of his boots before he starts picking up his heels properly. He isn't polite enough to wait until Christian has alighted before tossing an arm or two around the older man's neck and say, "Happy holidays, signor. Gimme presents."

On cue, the KTM sort've dies or maybe Chris kills it in some sneaky way because it goes silent as soon as he jerks it up onto the bike's center stand. He actually removes the keys a minute late, before dismounting."Goodness gracious, well yeah I was gonna ride back here before I killed that damn thing."he grins in his helmet. He hadn't really had the opportunity to give presents since, well since he was a kid but those ere cheap crappy poor people presents.

What Chris produces, is the entire satchel itself which he just sort've paws over. "Bag, everything is yours. Everything inside it, belongs to you now."

Since there are only specific ways in which getting a bike in the crotch is comfortable, and none of them can be described as 'by accident,' Teo releases the hug before much motorcycle happens and squints at the bowl of his friend's helmet though it's a pointless effort, really. He can hear Christian's smiling anyway. The bag thumps his hands with a murmur of canvas and metallic clicking. He peers down at the bag. "I only wanted a little present," he says warily. Not the kind of wary that comes of avoiding attached strings, but associated value.

"This is bigger than I thought it was going to be." His hand on either end, the bag teeters once, twice; not enough equivocation to be construed as rude, but an absurd touch of bashful on a young man whose ego and self-contained interests are generously-proportioned enough to block most outside influences.

Christian smiles broadly as he tugs off his gloves "I bought the bag with government money, the stuff inside is a mixture of crap from the pool of gear we buy for terrorist gifts and stuff I bought you. The government, nor did the gear pool yield you a boat so I had to source that one. Besides Teo, your the only guy I have I can give presents to. All my buddies are still overseas, so it ain't like I can go hang with'em right?"

Chris finally peels his lid off, tucking his gloves inside before setting it aside to rest on a mirror. "Promise, I didn't spend much. So open yer shit up and see whats inside."

Teo is still suspicious. Not the terrorist kind of suspicious, nor precisely the little kid kind of suspicious, but closer to the latter than the former. His frown twitches. Eventually, temptation wins out, as temptation is occasionally wont to.

A grin flares wide across his features and he's a scrabble of scratchy-gloved hands, then, the dispatch bag popped and peeled apart even as he gracelessly drops into a gargoyle's squat, bracketing the canvas and its loose strap in with his knees, unwilling to let anything fall even if the fact that it came from signor Powell more or less guarantees that it'd take more than a little gravity to kill it, whatever it is.

Inside the pouch, right on top there's a boat only it isn't plastic. Its tin, a clockwork wind up sort've affair still in a box which proudly proclaims that despite its metallic nature it does indeed float. Below, is a particularly well aged FT-817 that'd seen some serious use over the years. The metallic chassis had recently been separated and its cover painted in a dull black that didnt match the rest of the nicked and scraped body. There was of course a Morse key, a hand mic and a basic antenna. Never mind a few manuals on the radio and listings of local repeater bands. Below that, was a heavy nylon tool roll filled with a particularly comprehensive array of bump keys, bump hammers, picks, knives, files and a number of other tools used to bypass locks.

"I looked everywhere for a plastic boat, I mean like everywhere but couldn't find any that weren't some cheesy Chinese stuff. So sorry, its tin."he announces plainly. "The boat and the bag are all I got you, the rest came from the tool pool. The Yaesu there, I dont know who used it but the thing did two tours in southern Europe by the export stamping so I figured that probably meant you should have it less it end up in Hajji's hands."

That's probably a little racist, or so thinks the errant corner of Teo's brain reserved for pointless commentary whenever the rest of his head is busy with constructive thoughts. Like, holy shit! Cazzo! Look at this. I could talk to God with that (conveniently forgetting that that's what Sundays and prayer are for), and break into Heaven or at least sail the fiery lake awhile. He doesn't think his soul is very big, so. It would fit. It would do him.

He doesn't have enough hands to hold everything, so most of it ends up tumbling around inside the bag as he roots around its contents like a pig for truffles, picking things out to hold them up against the mingled light of moon and distant electrical functions, his quartz-blue gaze wide one moment then squinted narrow the next, as the manual handles are held closer to his nose then further away, trying to bring the title text into focus.

The next moment, the spine of the book seesaws gently to the right, allowing one eye to peer at Christian. He says, "Grazie."

Operating manuals for the radio and its antenna, 'tactical communications and you', books on clandestine antenna construction, a copy of Killing Pablo and a number of repeater manuals and other boring texts for radio nerdity. "Your very welcome Teo, now the poor radio has seen a lot of action. Its reception is a little scratchy, and it doesnt want to transmit on full power but I couldnt figure it out. I think its a processor problem, which is usually terminal. So this isnt a long term radio, its eventually going to lose its ability to transmit and then it'll just be a really complicated scanner. I'd have gotten something nicer, but it was this or some Alinco contraption and friends don't let friends own Alinco."

"Maybe not your friends," Teo answers, a wry note to his voice that adds a line between the others, a harmless touch of teasing, whatever you say. It's a good radio to start with. Given one of the most powerful cyberpaths in the world happens to be his coworker, it'll probably last him longer than it would most other enthusiasts. He looks into its little screen, a cotton-clad thumb poking past its lumpy array of buttons.

He's still looking down at it even as he tucks Killing Pablo back in and works the boat box back out with a grip on the corner. He'd had a cursory glance over the tiny vessel already.

Permits himself longer, this time. The simplified etch of windows, the turning key, the curve of its seaworthy — or at least, bathtub-worthy hull, without major resemblance to any specific model of motor-powered seacraft; archetypical in that way. It's awesome. "I'm going to see how fast it goes, really soon," he announces to the ruins at large.

Christian steps back with a glance to his watch. "Get your shit together, lets go get some food I'm fucking starved. I could totally go for like some mexican, or maybe some Indian or somethin." He adjusts the fit of his satchel, turning back to mount the tall katoom once more. "We can futz over stuff when its warm, I'm just glad you liked it Teo. "

Fortunately, Teo's shit is mostly together already. Snow and barren asphalt don't seem to make for the best terrain to spread his gifts out and sort through them, and he likes them too much to challenge their durability yet. With one last look at the tin boat, he shuts the bag, seals it, and slips the strap over his scruffy head. "Okay.

"We have to figure out your guns, too. There's this Bangledeshi place: open late 'cause the husband works at the morgue. I do," disjointed from the cold or haste or his own sincerity or both, he confirms that part last. Stops by the front bike briefly, peers at Christian's face to make sure he understands. "It was fucking great."

December 27th: Checking In with the Boss
December 27th: Of Cacti And Cops
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